A relentless denunciation of the concept of “progress”, tracing its ideological roots to Saint Augustine and then to Turgot, its use in the Enlightenment as a two-edged weapon of the rising bourgeoisie against the Ancien Régime, its golden age in the time of Comte, Darwin and Marx (reminding us that it was Marx who said, “every development in the means of new productive forces is at the same time a weapon against the workers”), its temporary eclipse amidst the world wars and genocide in the first half of the 20th century, and documenting its culmination as a philistine “password”, “myth” and “alibi” for generating conformist submission to technological disaster.
In this 2007 essay, Robert Kurz examines the question of theory and practice from the perspective of the “categorical” “critique of value-dissociation”, with extensive discussions of Marx, Engels, Bloch, Adorno, Horkheimer, Gramsci, Althusser, Foucault, Debord, Negri, and Holloway, and concludes, in the face of the prevalent urge for immediate “action” and the equally widespread denigration of theory, that “critical theory must consciously maintain a distance from all existing praxis”.
Unconscious objectivity - aspects of a critique of the mathematical natural sciences (excerpts) - Claus Peter Ortlieb
A mathematician takes a sceptical look at the mathematical basis of modern natural science both from an immanent perspective—with regard to its epistemological contradictions (e.g., the divergence of the experimental method from the requirements of a strict empiricism)—as well as from a historical perspective that situates its rise and development in the context of the emergence of capitalist society in Western Europe, and proposes that it, too, like Ptolemaic astronomy, is a transient phenomenon that might be succeeded by another “Copernican revolution in thought”, one in accordance with a different kind of socio-economic system.
In this 2010 interview, Robert Kurz discusses Marx’s theory of crisis, the theories of “collapse” advocated by a minority of Marxists (Luxemburg, Grossman, Mattick) in the early 1900s, the implications of the “third industrial revolution of microelectronics” for capitalist accumulation, Moishe Postone’s analysis of the crisis of abstract labor, “anti-industrialism” and the anti-growth movement (Décroissants), and the meaning of “labor” as a historical and economic concept that must be transcended and replaced by “conscious social planning” and a “broad diversification of industrial production and services, implemented in accordance with purely qualitative criteria”.
In this 2006 interview, Robert Kurz offers a succinct definition the “radical critique of value”, and discusses the nature of the commodity and markets, the “ontologization of value”, abstract labor, the unsavory side of Enlightenment ideology, “the liberation of the abstract individual” as a result of the current global crisis, the “double Marx”, fetishism, Anselm Jappe’s book The Adventures of the Commodity, the continuing relevance of Guy Debord’s concept of the spectacle, and other topics, in an interview for a Brazilian online publication.
'Die Reaktion in Deutschland. Ein Fragment von einem Franzosen’ first appeared in Arnold Ruge (ed.), Deutsche Jahrbücher fur Wissenschaft and Kunst, nos. 247-51 (Leipzig, October 17th-21st, 1842) under the pseudonym "Jules Elysard". Die Reaktion was written in response to Ruge's call set forth in the Preface to the first edition of Deutsche Jahrbücher for all Hegelians to enter into political struggle.
Albert Camus' 1951 study of the development of rebellion and revolution in European thought and society discussing, amongst others, Hegel, Dostoyevsky, Nietzsche, Max Stirner, and anti-Tsarist Russian nihilists, as well as the Bolsheviks, who he accuses of having betrayed the fundamental principles of rebellion.